Enjoy this eclectic mix of craft, gardening and health books with various projects, ideas and tips to connect with and get inspiration from. Read about passions and crazes such as fern fever, or Pteridomania as it became known, and its effect on professional botanists and men and women from all classes. Check our list of books on wellbeing featuring recent information, which suggests that friends provide us with more than just social recreation, including a range of physical, emotional, and professional benefits.
Welcome to this month’s selection of irresistible books on knitting, weaving and embroidery, as well as, beautifully finished accessories for your home. Satisfy your creative urge, experiment a little with new ideas and learn great techniques through the numerous step-by-step instructions and, if you fancy a pot of tea, take a look at the gorgeous collection of colourful tea cosies, created by J. Occleshaw. Enjoy!
Knit a monster nursery : practical and playful knitted baby patterns / Rebecca Danger ; [photography by Brent Kane].
“Knit up a delightful collection of fun yet practical monster themed projects your little ones are sure to love. From the creative mind behind the best-selling “Big Book of Knitted Monsters” comes an adorable collection of more than 16 knitted toys, clothing, accessories, and nursery decorations that you’ll love knitting for the little one in your life. Stitch a roomful of fun and practical items – suitable for both boys and girls, and for knitters of all levels – including an irresistible monster mobile, baby blankets, blocks, booties, bookends, rattles, hats, and more!” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
Knits at home : rustic designs for the modern nest / Ruth Cross ; with photography by Ben Anders.
“One of the trademarks of Ruth Cross, the knitting design company British knitting designer Ruth Bridgeman founded in 2004, is the use of traditional stitches – garter, stockinette, seed and cables – to create texture on items not normally covered with wool, such as vases or furniture. But the traditional nature of Ruth Cross designs is also one of the book’s weaknesses. While the book includes 22 projects, ranging from sachets to rugs, it offers nothing the enterprising knitter could not achieve on his or her own with existing stitch dictionaries. Another weakness is the narrow palette of grey, cream, and black used in almost every project. Such limits are a barrier to inspiration from the otherwise excellent photographs. Still, for the knitter who wants to incorporate his or her craft into her home decor, this book offers a one-stop shop for is pretty patterns for pillows, throws and wall hangings. And the real value of the book lies in the author’s organic approach to knitting, building one stitch on top of another to achieve texture, while her mantra that knitting should always be fun will serve knitters of all levels well. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.” (Publisher Weekly) (courtesy of Syndetics)
Knitted letters : make personalized gifts and accents with creative typography-based knitting projects / Catherine Hirst and Erssie Major.
“This is a knitting book full of great ideas for knitting with typography. It’s suitable for all knitting skill levels. The introduction includes how to customize projects, information about yarn and gauging and fairly complete diagrams for a beginning knitter. My favourite stranded projects include the Slab Serif collegiate looking children’s backpack, the French press cozy with the word CAFE in a stenciled inspired font (pictured on the cover) and calligraphic black letter e-reader cover with the words “ex libris”. There are a lot more projects than that, including some great children’s projects. The 3D letters pictured on the cover are more involved with more seaming and shaping, and more advanced knitters would have fun with those. As well as the LOVE pillows, there are also bookends that are the letters A and Z for witty knitty fun.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
The shape of knitting : a master class in increases, decreases, and other forms of shaping : with 20+ projects / Lynne Barr ; photographs by Thayer Allyson Gowdy ; photostyling by Karen Schaupeter.
” Lynne Barr is one of my favourite brains in knitting. She’s not afraid to explore, de-and re-constuct to hit on something new and inventive. In this book Lynne searches methodes for shaping flat and dimensional knotted fabrics, as well as, new techniques she has mastermanded. Twenty-four fashion-fresh projects make exploring these skills a fascinating adventure!”–Publisher’s description (courtesy of Syndetics)
Tea cosies / Jenny Occleshaw.
“This book has a delightful collection of unique, easy-to-make tea cosies to cheer every table. It includes projects duitable for experienced crafters and newcomers alike and, every project is explained using easy-to-follow instructions”.–Publisher’s description (courtesy of Syndetics)
Alastair Morton and Edinburgh Weavers : visionary textiles and modern art / Lesley Jackson.
“Edinburgh Weavers was one of the most important textile companies of the twentieth century. Alastair Morton, visionary art director of the company, commissioned a remarkable series of textiles from leading British artists, including Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Elisabeth Frink, as well artist-designers, such as Marion Dorn, Ashley Havinden and Lucienne Day. Morton was also a gifted artist, textile designer and weaver in his own right. This long overdue study traces his wide-ranging career and records the history of Edinburgh Weavers and the glorious textiles it produced. Drawing on the V&A’s extensive archive this impressive book features over 300 images of artists’ textiles unparalleled in quality and scope and is an invaluable resource.”–Publisher’s description (courtesy of Syndetics)
The spinner’s book of yarn designs : techniques for creating 80 yarns / Sarah Anderson.
“According to the introduction, Anderson’s goal here isn’t to teach readers how to spin, but to share the information that she has collected over the 35+ years that she’s been creating her own yarn. The first half of the book covers spinning basics, from fiber preparation to spinning singles to a variety of plying techniques. The second half covers advanced techniques for spinning novelty, textured, and art yarns, including boucles, crepe yarns, and coil yarns. Anderson includes ample photographs, many of them including callouts describing the makeup of the yarn being discussed. VERDICT Most recent spinning books have focused on one type of yarn, and Anderson’s more general approach offers enough variety to keep spinners busy. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal) (courtesy of Syndetics)
Embroidery : traditional techniques and contemporary applications for hand and machine embroidery / Sophie Long.
“Needlecrafts are currently enjoying a healthy revival as a whole new generation of crafters pick up their needles and get involved. With a plethora of social groups, blogs, and websites such as Etsy and Design Sponge now targeted specifically at a younger, hipper demographic, embroidery has cast off its image as an old fashioned hobby to become more popular than ever before. With its combination of step-by-step tutorials, practitioner profiles, and inspirational galleries full of bang up-to-date modern pieces, Embroidery introduces an authoritative new style of reference that is guaranteed to appeal to a new generation of embroidery enthusiasts, sewers, and needlecrafters of all levels.”–Publisher’s description (courtesy of Syndetics)
Happy home : everyday magic for a colourful life / Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau ; foreword by Holly Becker of Decor8.
“This book shows people how the basics of everyday life can be made so much more enjoyable by bringing colour and a sense of fun to daily living, whether by using colourful accessories in the kitchen or by introducing colourful fabrics, textures and hints of humour in to the living room. Danish design is not all about cool and calm interiors. It is all about fun, colour and enjoyment. The book features RICE style applied to a variety of homes, from a contemporary Copenhagen apartment to a simple country retreat, a comfortable family home to an ultra modern studio space. Happy Home is a beautiful demonstration of the RICE ethos, and how its warm and caring, fun and funky aesthetic can be applied in living spaces, kitchens, bedrooms, children’s rooms and outdoor areas.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
How gardens affect us and what constitutes good taste in a garden are some of the questions Rory Stuart asks in his book “What are gardens for?” In this post you will see that philosophising on gardening is a major theme for these recent picks. The other theme popping up here is that of history, the tracing of traditions and personal stories.
The glory of the garden : a horticultural celebration from the pages of Country Life / Country Life editor Mark Hedges ; compiled and edited by Sam Carter & Kate Gatacre ; series consultant John Goodall.
“Gardening writing goes to the heart of the iconic brand that is Country Life. Gertrude Jekyll, the doyenne of gardening art, was a driving force at the birth of Country Life in 1897, and set the standard for some of the best English gardening writing. The influence of this writing on twentieth century English garden design is hard to overestimate. Yet here all is presented in accessible articles and choice photos. Within the pages of The Glory of the Garden you can trace the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, the Edwardian revolution in garden design, the Italianate obsessions and the eccentric longing for an Olde English style.” (Syndetics summary)
Philosophy in the garden / Damon Young ; text illustrations by Daniel Keating.
“Why did Marcel Proust have bonsai beside his bed? What was Jane Austen doing, coveting an apricot? How was Friedrich Nietzsche inspired by his ‘thought tree’? In Philosophy in the Garden, Damon Young explores one of literature’s most intimate relationships: authors and their gardens. For some, the garden provided a retreat from workaday labour; for others, solitude’s quiet counsel. For all, it played a philosophical role: giving their ideas a new life. Philosophy in the Garden reveals the profound thoughts discovered in parks, backyards and pot-plants. It does not provide tips for mowing overgrown cooch grass, or mulching a dry Japanese maple. It is a philosophical companion to the garden’s labours and joys.”(Syndetics summary)
What are gardens for? / Rory Stuart.
“What do we expect of gardens – when we make them and when we visit them? Could we get more from them, if we thought harder about what it is we want and why we make gardens? This book approaches the experience of being in a garden from many different angles, questioning many of our easily-adopted assumptions and suggesting ways of getting more from any garden, whether it is our own or one we are visiting.” (Syndetics summary)
Flowers in the world’s most beautiful gardens / photographed by Alain Le Toquin ; text by Yves-Marie Allain ; translated from the French by Nicholas Elliott.
“Flowers in the World’s Most Beautiful Gardensputs the spotlight on the star of the garden—the flower. Tracing the history of flower gardens from the Middle Ages to today, the book discusses the types of flowers commonly planted, the landscape designs, the advances in technology, and how these practices have changed throughout the centuries. Illustrated with more than 180 exquisite photographs by Alain Le Toquin, this book features the world’s most extraordinary flower gardens, showcasing gardens in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, New Zealand, Russia, the United States, Thailand, and many more.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)
Growing honest food : an oasis of Italian tradition in the suburbs / Gabriella Gomersal-Hubbard.
“A barren block of land in the Australian suburbs has, over a period of 30 years, been transformed by the Sicilianos’ passion, daring, perserverance and hard work into a slice of the Calabrian countryside – a lush and wonderful oasis. At a mere 1.2 ha., Rose Creek Estate is probably the smallest vineyard in the nation and, at less than 17 kilometres from the city centre, certainly the most urban. Yet it is astounding just how productive this small piece of land in a quiet residential corner of Melbourne is. Cherished family and regional traditions, steeped in an ancient culture, remain a large part of this couple’s lives, guiding them in their efforts to create their own piece of paradise. The Sicilianos’ enterprise is the embodiment of these ideas and living proof that such pursuits can build both a profitable business and a healthy and intensely satisfying way of life.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)
Fern fever : the story of Pteridomania / Sarah Whittingham.
“Of all the many passions and crazes in nineteenth-century gardening and natural history, none was as long lasting or as wide reaching as fern fever, or Pteridomania as it became known. The obsession with ferns was not confined to a few professional botanists but it affected men, women and children from all classes through the British Isles, the Empire and America. Their overwhelming desire to ‘capture’ a rare specimen led them to wade through streams, scale rock faces, descend gorges and lean over fast-flowing rivers. Accidents were common, sometimes fatal, and over-collecting and even fern stealing were rife. Of all the many passions and crazes in nineteenth-century gardening and natural history, none was as long lasting or as wide reaching as fern fever, or Pteridomania as it became known Fern Fever.” (Adapted from Syndetics Summary)
Adagio : living & gardening mindfully / Trisha Dixon.
“Adagio is a charming treatise on slow gardening and the importance of slowing down and enjoying life. At the same time, it has an environmental message regarding living ethically and sustainably. This message is delivered in Trisha Dixon’s inimitable style, as she seamlessly blends personal anecdote with musings and facts, drawing on her gardening background and her wide-ranging interests in philosophy, music, art, nature and the environment. It will appeal to gardeners and dreamers alike – anyone, in fact, who yearns for a more environmentally-attuned life.” (Syndetics Summary)
Auckland’s remarkable urban forest / Mike D. Wilcox.”
“A comprehensive account of the trees and forests of Auckland City, New Zealand. It covers native bush remnants, native revegetation, exotic woodlands, parks, campuses, cemeteries, historic homesteads, street trees, home gardens, notable trees, flowering trees, tree health, and utilisation of the urban forest. A particular feature is the description of the parks in each of Auckland’s Local Board areas. The book will be of interest and relevance to park users, gardeners, botanists and ecologists, arborists, dendrologists, Council managers, planners, developers, environmental volunteer groups, and citizens and visitors to Auckland in general.” (Fishpond)
This month, we’ll explore some fascinating facts about our bodies from a historical, scientific, artistic and sociological angles, look at our relationship with our face and its appearance, find solutions to almost every back problem and take advice on nutrition, health and exercise. Finally, we reflect on how we can change our approach towards gender stereotypes by understanding the neuroscience behind it.
Anatomies : the human body, its parts and the stories they tell
“It is the most fraught and fascinating, talked-about and taboo, unique yet universal aspect of our lives. Until we fall ill, most of us take this extraordinarily complicated collection of flesh, bones and fluids entirely for granted. But from ancient body art to plastic surgery, from early anatomists to conceptual artists, grave-robbers to bionic athletes, our changing attitudes to the human body – how it works, what it should look like, how to live with it, what it means – tell us more about ourselves than almost any other subject in human history. Blending history, science, art, literature and the everyday, one of our finest science writers investigates this most marvellous and mysterious of creations. The result is a treasure trove of surprising facts, remarkable stories and startling information that encompasses everything from the first finger-printing to the physiology of angels, from synaesthesia to the clown-egg register, from the death-mask of Isaac Newton to the afterlife of Einstein’s brain.” Publisher’s description (courtesy of Syndetics)
In your face : the hidden history of plastic surgery and why looks matter
“We humans have been modifying our faces for centuries-from medieval face-pulling competitions (often fatal) and criminal punishment in ancient India (rhinokopia), to post-war reconstructive surgery and contemporary cosmetic surgery. But what is it that compels us to go “under the knife”? Is it simply the pursuit of beauty, or is it a deeper drive for survival? And why, with all our advances in medical science, does some plastic surgery look so bad? You can open any women’s magazine and find at least one article showing some celebrity’s cosmetic surgery gone wrong, often resulting in that familiar and laughable but tragic “wind tunnel” face. The truth is that kind of look is not really plastic surgery at all-it’s cosmetic surgery done by underqualified practitioners using outdated techniques. It shouldn’t happen. This book shows you why and how. In the tradition of The Brain that Changes Itself; Guns, Germs & Steel; Salt; and Orchid Fever, this lively exploration of the history and science of plastic surgery looks at 500 years of the face-what we do to it, what it means for us, and what the future holds.” (Syndetics summary)
The back bible
“A must-have family reference packed with proven, practical approaches to caring for your back throughout your life. With a full anatomy of the spine and back, a breakdown of different types of pain, when to see the doctor and at-a-glance diagnostic advice, The Back Bible offers a physiological run down of the problems that can affect you back, neck, and shoulders.
Dozens of self-help measures are covered, including general back care, exercise routines, ways of improving sleeping posture and the benefits of heat/hydro therapy and self-massage. There is also extensive advice on managing back pain, from analgesics to visualisation and meditation. The book then guides you through what to expect from conventional medical care, covering diagnosis, drug treatments, surgery, physiotherapy and a directory of complementary therapies and specialist treatments.” (From Amazon.co.uk)
The honest life : living naturally and true to you
“Actress, activist, and entrepreneur Jessica Alba inspires moms to make affordably healthy choices for themselves and their families without sacrificing style. As a new mom, Jessica Alba wanted to create the safest, healthiest environment for her family. But she was frustrated by the lack of trustworthy information on how to live healthier and cleaner–delivered in a way that a busy mom could act on without going to extremes. In 2012, with serial entrepreneur Brian Lee and environmental advocate Christopher Gavigan, she launched The Honest Company, a brand where parents can find reliable information and products that are safe, stylish, and affordable. The Honest Life shares the insights and strategies she gathered along the way. The Honest Life recounts Alba’s personal journey of discovery and reveals her tips for making healthy living fun, real, and stylish, while offering a candid look inside her home and daily life. She shares strategies for maintaining a clean diet (with favorite family-friendly recipes) and embracing nontoxic choices at home; she also provides eco-friendly decor tips to fit any budget. Alba discusses cultivating a daily eco beauty routine, finding one’s personal style without resorting to yoga pants, and engaging in fun, hands-on activities with kids. Her solutions are easy, chic, and down-to-earth: They’re honest. And discovering everyday ways to live naturally and authentically–true to you–could be honestly life-changing” (Syndetics summary)
The unapologetic fat girl’s guide to exercise and other incendiary acts
“An empowering guide for plus-size women shares non-judgmental, practical information and motivational strategies for incorporating exercise into an everyday lifestyle, profiling a range of options from WiiFit to extreme sports while covering such topics as common sports injuries, nutritional guidelines and working with a trainer. This guide is big on attitude, giving plus-size women the motivation, support, and information to improve their health.” (Syndetics summary)
Be your own nutritionist : rethink your relationship with food
“A radical new approach to healthy eating…
Bombarded by fad diets and scary slogans telling you how to eat healthily and lose weight? Confused as to which of the hundreds of diet books out there is telling the truth? Be Your Own Nutritionist has the answers. Forget low-carb diets, superfoods, your five-a-day there are no hard and fast rules about what to eat, when. A healthy diet varies from person to person and, most importantly, from place to place.
This is an exciting new take on nutrition showing how factors such as climate, time, environment and emotional wellbeing should all affect the way we eat. Combining age-old traditions of healthy eating (did you know that the mid-Victorians had the best diet of any Britons before or since?) with modern scientific research, clinician George Cooper shows you how to ignore the fads and eat right for yourself. He explains in clear, easy terms exactly how your digestive system works (and why you need to know). He explains why raw food is sometimes bad for you; and how hot, spicy foods can mitigate against damp and cold. Packed with easily-adaptable recipes and useful tips, this book is your indispensible guide to eating well, wherever you are.”(from Amazon.co.uk)
“Few of us realize what strange wet miracles of science operate inside us after every meal. In her trademark style, Mary Roach investigates the beginning, and end, of our food, addressing such questions as why crunchy food is so appealing, how much we can eat before our stomachs burst, and whether constipation killed Elvis.” (Syndetics summary)
All is well : heal your body with medicine, affirmations and intuition
“This new book by celebrated authors Louise Hay and Mona Lisa Schulz, not only explores the medical science behind the affirmations in Louise Hay’s international bestseller You Can Heal Your Life, but also offers stories and practical advice for personal healing.
Structured around seven emotional centres, which mirror our chakra system, Louise and Mona Lisa examine the connections between these centres and the body. Drawing on years of research, they explore probable mental causes for the physical manifestation of illness associated with each centre, and then lay out how to address these health concerns. Combining two complementary systems, Louise discusses new thought patterns and offers new affirmations to counteract specific emotional weaknesses, and Mona Lisa, who has worked for many years as a medical intuitive and physician, helps readers listen to their own bodies’ intuition and prescribes medical solutions that are based in Western science. They provide real-world examples of people who faced illness and outline the specific emotional and physical prescriptions that helped them heal.” (from Amazon.co.uk)
Empower yourself and those around you – whether it’s being decisive in your decisions and making a difference with your power to influence, or just learning how not to slap or be slapped in the face!
The curse of lovely : how to break free from the demands of others and learn to say no / Jacqui Marson.
“Many people’s lives, relationships, careers and wellbeing are blighted by the belief that to be liked, loved and accepted they have to limit themselves to the behaviours they believe are approved of by others. This might mean some or all of the following: always being polite, nice, helpful, charming, fun, making people feel good about themselves, not letting people down, never saying ‘no’, avoiding conflict and putting others’ needs before their own. In her 15 years of clinical experience as a psychologist Jacqui Marson has coined the phrase ‘the curse of lovely’ to describe this growing trend. Many people would like to be known as lovely, but for a growing number of people it can feel like a curse. They feel unable to put their own needs before those of everyone else, and feel that changing this is not an option. This book shows readers how to break the curse of lovely to live a more complete, fulfilling life.” (Global Books in Print)
The difference you make : changing your world through the impact of your influence / Pat Williams with Jim Denney.
“Every one of us has influence, whether we realize it or not. In everything we say and do, we are influencing those around us. What if we became more aware, more intentional, and more strategic about our own influence? Well, we might just change the world. True influence, says Pat Williams, isn’t about getting what you want–it’s about serving others. Using personal stories from his own life and the lives of others, Williams shows readers the difference between influence and manipulation, how to influence others through both words and deeds, and ultimately how to change the world for the better, one relationship at a time. This book will inspire readers to build a positive legacy in the lives of others and take the role of influencer to heart. Each chapter includes questions and ideas for personal reflection and practical application, and can be used to guide group discussions as well.” (Global Books in Print)
Decisive : how to make better choices in life and work / Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
“Just making a decision can be hard enough, but how do you begin to judge whether it’s the right one? In Decisive, best-selling authors Chip and Dan Heath draw on decades of psychological research to explain why we so often get it very badly wrong – why our supposedly rational brains are frequently tripped up by powerful biases and wishful thinking. At the same time they demonstrate how relatively easy it is to avoid the pitfalls and find the best answers, offering four simple principles that we can all learn and follow. In the process, they show why it is that experts frequently make mistakes. They demonstrate the perils of getting trapped in a narrow decision frame. And they explore people’s tendency to be over-confident about how their choices will unfold. Drawing on case histories as diverse as the downfall of Kodak and the inspiring account of a cancer survivor, they offer both a fascinating tour through the workings of our minds and an invaluable guide to making smarter decisions.” (Book cover)
A slap in the face : why insults hurt – and why they shoudln’t / William B. Irvine.
“Insults are part of the fabric of daily life. Other people inflict them on us, sometimes blatantly but more often subtly. On some occasions, we are delighted to be on the receiving end of these insults: when the members of a group we have joined start playfully teasing us, for example, it can be a sign of acceptance into the group. On other occasions, though, an insult can cause us pain so intense that even years later, we will find ourselves experiencing insult flashbacks. We are also the source of insults. Some of them are consciously inflicted, but many more are sufficiently subtle that we will not recognize them for what they are unless we replay conversations in our head and try to fathom our motives for having said the things we said. Do this, and we might be astonished by our tendency, in casual conversation, to put people into what we regard as their proper place — namely, somewhere below us on the social hierarchy. In A Slap in the Face, William B. Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging investigation of insults, their history, the role they play in social relationships, and the science behind them. He offers advice, based primarily on the writings of the Stoic philosophers, on how best to curb our own insulting tendencies and how best to respond to the insults that are directed our way.” (Global Books in Print)
Birth order : what your position in the family really tells you about your character / [Linda Blair].
“We’ve all heard the stereotypes – first borns are natural leaders, middle borns are difficult, last borns are spoiled and single children are loners. But how accurate are these snapshots? In this groundbreaking book, clinical psychologist Linda Blair examines what your birth order really tells you about your character, your relationships – even your choice of career. She also considers the factors that skew ‘typical’ birth-order characteristics, such as how you were parented and the sex and spacing of your siblings. Written in a lively, personal style, Birth Order will unlock keys to why you think, feel and behave in the ways that you do.” (Book cover)
Friendfluence : the surprising ways friends make us who we are / Carlin Flora.
“Psychology Today features editor Flora coined the term “friendfluence” to suggest that friends provide us with more than just social recreation; with successful friendship comes a range of physical, emotional, and professional benefits. Her interdisciplinary discussion draws on scientific research, philosophy, and anecdotes to examine friendship across a lifespan, from playground pals to adolescent and adult relationships. She also alights on the particular struggles some-like those diagnosed with Asperger’s-face when trying to make friends. Flora shows that friendships are often formed through unconscious strategies (such as the evolutionary impulse to cooperate), and tend to bind individuals together in ways that are in some sense more resilient than marital or familial ties. Yet friendfluence is not without its darker counterpart, and Flora does not shy away from issues like teasing, lying, and betrayal, topics that-perhaps tellingly-segue into a discussion of friendship in the age of Facebook. The book is far-reaching, and the natural consequence of such a massive scope is that some sections feel limited, and unifying themes can be hard to parse. But just as the “dance of disclosure” allows individuals to get to know one another, so too does Flora’s compelling book disclose many of friendship’s secrets.” (Publisher’s Weekly Review)